BEGINNERS

1st Training session
A. Swimming
A1. 2×50 meters, Crawl @ warm-up
 
A2. 2×50 meters, Leg drill A
2×50 meters, Leg drill C
2×50 meters, Kickboard stroke drill A
2×50 meters, Kickboard stroke drill B
 
A3. 4×25 meters, Crawl (try to keep a steady pace)
Rest 15 seconds between
50m Breaststroke or Backstroke
4×25 meters, Crawl (try to keep a steady pace)
Rest 10 seconds between
 
A4. 50 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 800 meters
 
NOTES: Try to incorporate the technique from the drills, into your swimming (kicking action as well as stroke technique). Breathing is also important, so remember to inhale from your mouth and exhale from your nose. This prevents the water from entering your nose. If you find that difficult while swimming, practice a few breaths on the side of the pool.
A. Swimming
A1. 2×50 meters, Crawl @ warm-up
 
A2. 2×50 meters, Leg drill C
2×50 meters, Leg drill E
2×50 meters, Kickboard stroke drill C
2×50 meters, Kickboard stroke drill D
 
A3. 4×50 meters, Crawl (try to keep a steady and easy pace on each length)
Rest 30 seconds between
 
A4. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 800 meters
 
NOTES: Try to incorporate the technique from the drills into your swimming (kicking action as well as stroke length). Breathing is also important, so remember to inhale from your mouth and exhale from your nose. This prevents the water from entering your nose. If you find that difficult while swimming, practice a few breaths on the side of the pool. In fact, if you find yourself panting at the end of each 50m swim, try to take a few of those side pool breaths during the rest period, to help lower your heart rate and control your breathing. Take deep breaths and focus on exhaling all the air from your lungs.
A. Swimming
A1. 2×50 meters, Crawl @ warm-up
 
A2. 2×50 meters, Leg drill D
2×50 meters, Leg drill E
2×50 meters, Kickboard stroke drill D
2×50 meters, Kickboard Stroke drill E
 
A3. 25-50-75-50-25 meters, (try to keep a steady pace on all distances)
Rest 20 seconds between
 
A4. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 825 meters
 
NOTES: Try to incorporate the technique from the drills into your swimming (kicking action as well as stroke length). Breathing is also important, so remember to inhale from your mouth and exhale from your nose. This prevents the water from entering your nose. If you find that difficult while swimming, practice a few breaths on the side of the pool. In fact, if you find yourself panting at the end of each length, try to take a few of those side pool breaths during the rest period, to help lower your heart rate and control your breathing. Take deep breaths and focus on exhaling all the air from your lungs.
A. Swimming
A1. 100 meters, Crawl @ warm-up (try to swim the distance without stopping)
 
A2. 2×50 meters, Stroke drill A
2×50 meters, Stroke drill B
2×50 meters, Stroke drill C
 
A3. 2×50 meters, Flutter kicks with a kickboard (hold the kickboard from the top and try not to push down on it)
 
A4. 4×50 meters, Crawl (build easy to hard each 50 meters)
Rest 30 seconds between
 
A5. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 800 meters
 
NOTES: Try to incorporate the technique from the drills into your swimming (kicking action as well as stroke length). Breathing is also important, so remember to inhale from your mouth and exhale from your nose. This prevents the water from entering your nose. If you find that difficult while swimming, practice a few breaths on the side of the pool.
On the 4×50 meter portion, try not to alter or shorten your stroke length as you go faster. Instead, try to pull and push a little bit harder as you increase speed.
A. Swimming
A1. 100 meters, Crawl @ warm-up (try to swim the distance at an easy pace without stopping)
 
A2. 2×50 meters, Stroke drill A
2×50 meters, Stroke drill B
2×50 meters, Stroke drill C
 
A3. 8×50 meters,
Crawl (1st -3rd -5th -7th) counting strokes per length (try to keep all lengths at the same number of strokes),
Backstroke (2nd-4th-6th-8th) easy pace
Rest 20 seconds between
 
A4. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 900 meters
 
NOTES: Try to incorporate the technique from the drills into your swimming (kicking action as well as stroke length).If these specific stroke drills are still challenging, continue with a kickboard. Once you feel more confident and comfortable, perform the drills without a kickboard.
Breathing is also important, so remember to inhale from your mouth and exhale from your nose. This prevents the water from entering your nose. If you find that difficult while swimming, practice a few breaths on the side of the pool.
On the 8×50 meter portion count the strokes needed for the first 50m swim and then try to keep all the lengths at the same number of strokes. Keep the strokes long and together with your kicking action, try to feel as if you’re gliding through the water. The longer your strokes, the longer you have to keep your head under water, so try to control your breathing by extending the exhalation process. Exhale slowly and steadily, rather than letting all the air out at once.
A. Swimming
A1. 100 meters, Crawl @ warm-up (try to swim the distance without stopping)
 
A2. 2×50 meters, Stroke drill B
2×50 meters, Stroke drill C
 
A3. 100 meters, Flutter kicks with a kickboard (hold the kickboard from the top and try not to push down on it)
 
A4. 2×100 meters, Crawl @ easy pace
Rest 45 seconds between
4×25 meters, Crawl sprint (rest will be the time it takes you to swim back to the starting point at an easy pace)
 
A5. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool down
Total Distance: 900 meters
 
NOTES: Try to incorporate the technique from the drills to your swimming (kicking action as well as stroke length). Breathing is also important, so remember to inhale from your mouth and exhale from your nose. This prevents the water from entering your nose. If you find that difficult while swimming, practice a few breaths on the side of the pool. On the 2×100 meter portion keep a nice easy pace and focus on the technique you have learned. On the 4×25 meter sprints, try not to alter or shorten your stroke length to go faster. Instead, try to pull, push and kick harder in the water, to increase the efficiency of your swimming.

INTERMEDIATE

A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl @ warm-up
 
A2. 2×50 meters, Stroke drill A
2×50 meters, Stroke drill B
 
A3. 2×100 meters, Flutter kicks with a kickboard (hold the kickboard from the top and try not to push down on it)
 
A4. 800 meters, Pyramid (25-50-75-100-150-150-100-75-50-25 meters) @1,5km PR pace
Rest 5 seconds between
 
A5. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 1500 meters
NOTES: Work on the technique explained in the drills, visualize the technique before entering the pool and try to incorporate it into your swimming. Focus on all three aspects of your technique (kicks, strokes and breathing).
Try to keep a steady pace an all lengths of the pyramid and keep to the 5” rest period. Remember to keep your stokes long and efficient, even when you start to get tired.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl- Backstroke @ warm-up
 
A2. 4×50 meters, Stroke drill D
 
A3. 200 meters, Flutter kicks with a kickboard (Hold the kickboard from the top and try not to push down on it)
 
A4. 8×100 meters, Crawl @ 1,5Km PR pace
(1st-2nd: Rest 30 seconds between, 3rd-4th: Rest 20 seconds between, 5th-6th: Rest 10 seconds between, 7th-8th: Rest 5 seconds between)
 
A5. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
TOTAL: 1500m
 
NOTES: Work on the technique explained in the drills, visualize the technique before entering the pool and try to incorporate it into your swimming. Focus on all three aspects of your technique (kicks, strokes and breathing). Try to take very long strokes and reach as far out in front of as you can.
Incorporate that stroke pattern in the main set and try to stick to that pattern while trying to keep your pace. As the rest period shortens, keeping your pace will become harder but this where you need to keep working on that pace. This will improve your endurance in the long run.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl @ warm-up
 
A2. 2×50 meters, Stroke drill C
2×50 meters, Stroke drill E
 
A3. 2×100 meters, Flutter kicks with a kickboard (try to keep a fast pace)
Rest 30 seconds between
A4. 200 meters Crawl @ 1,5KmPR +10” pace,
Rest 10 seconds
2×100 meters Crawl @ 1,5KmPR pace
Rest 15 seconds between
4×50 meters Crawl @ 1,5KmPR -10” pace
Rest 20 seconds between
8×25 meters Crawl @ 1,5KmPR -20” pace
Rest 25 seconds between
 
A5. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 1500 meters
 
NOTES: Work on your kicking technique on A3. Keep your feet under water (a. k. a. “quiet” or no bubble kick) and butt up to simulate the same body position you want to have when swimming full stroke. The goal is to condition your feet to move really, really fast in a narrow position.
On A4. the pace gradually increases but the distance shortens. Try to maintain your technique as you go faster. Long strokes move you through the water at a steady pace. Build that pace throughout and prepare to swim harder when your heart rate rises.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl @ warm-up
 
A2. 6×50 meters, Crawl (on the 1st,3rd ,5th take a breath every 5th stroke and on the 2nd,4th,6th take a breath every 7th stroke)
 
A3. 4×200 meters, Crawl (50 meters sprint- 50 meters easy pace)
Rest 30 seconds between
 
A4. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 1500 meters
 
NOTES: This breathing drill (A2) will help you improve your breath capacity because it helps you experiment on different breathing patterns. Counting your strokes will also help you with consistency. 
The main set (A3.) is a fast paced workout alternating between a fast and an easy pace. It will help you develop your breath control and recovery time, as it challenges your breathing capabilities.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl-Backstroke @ warm-up (switch every 50m)
 
A2. 200 meters, Flutter kicks with a kickboard (hold the kickboard from the top and try not to push down on it)
 
A3. 5×200 meters (1st @ 1,5KmPR +5”, 2nd @ 1,5KmPR, 3rd @ 1,5KmPR -5”, 4th @ 1,5KmPR -10”, 5th @ 1,5KmPR -15”)
Rest 30 seconds between
 
A4. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 1500 meters
 
NOTES: On A4. distance and rest period stay the same throughout the set but challenges your ability to increase your pace. Try to be consistent with the set pace on each 200m.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl- Backstroke (switch every 50 meters)
 
A2. 4×50 meters, Crawl @ counting strokes per length (try to use less strokes on each length)
 
A3. 800 meters, Crawl (100m @1,5KmPR -10”, 100m easy pace)
 
A4. 200 meters, Flutter kicks with a kickboard (hold the kickboard from the top and try not to push down on it)
 
A5. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool down
Total Distance: 1500 meters
 
NOTES: Try to use less strokes on each of the 4x50m. Focus on keeping your strokes long in order to glide through the water. Remember to reach out as far as possible with one arm and simultaneously push all the way back with your other hand, until it reaches your hips.
The main set (A3.) is a fast paced workout alternating between a fast and an easy pace. It will help you develop your breath control and recovery time, as it challenges your breathing capabilities.

ADVANCED

A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl @ warm-up
 
A2. 200 meters, Stroke drills (alternate between number C and E every 50 meters)
 
A3. 4×100 meters, Flutter Kicks in all positions without a kickboard (prone, supine and side positions)
 
A4.10×100 meters, Crawl @ 1,5KmPR
Rest 10 seconds between
 
A5. 8×50 meters, Crawl @
Odds: Take a breath every 5 strokes
Evens: Take a breath every 7 strokes (try to keep your strokes long and efficient even though you feel as you’re out of breath)
Rest 30 seconds between
 
A6. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool down
Total Distance: 2300 meters
NOTES: On A3. Aim to keep your kicking technique in all positions. In the prone position, keep your arms by your hips and work on your bilateral breathing. In the supine position, start with your arms down by your hips and as you feel comfortable try with your arms extended behind your head. Try and stretch your body in that position. For the side positions, extend one arm out in front of you and the other by your hips. Face is in the water and every 6-8 kicks turn your head upwards to take a breath. This will help you keep your balance as you perform the rolling movement in the full stroke.
This breathing drill will (A2) will help you improve your breath capacity because it helps you experiment on different breathing patterns. Counting your strokes will also help you with consistency.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl @ warm-up
 
A2. 200 meters, Stroke drills (combine numbers D and E and alternate arms every 50 meters)
 
A3. 5×400 meters, Crawl every 8’ (1st @ 1,5KmPR +5, 2nd @ 1,5KmPR, 3rd @ 1,5KmPR -3, 4th @ 1,5KmPR -6, 5th @ 1,5KmPR -10)
 
A4. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 2400 meters
 
NOTES: Goal is to challenge your 1,5KmPR for a longer distance and period of time. Try to stay consistent with the set times. Adjust the 8-minute work-rest time if it is too fast to follow.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl- Backstroke (alternate every 50 meters) @ warm-up
 
A2. 200 meters, Crawl @ counting strokes per length (try to use less strokes on each subsequent length)
 
A3. 200 meters, Flutter kicks with a kickboard
 
A4. 8×200 meters, Crawl @ 1,5KmPR (try to keep a steady pace even though your rest time goes down, 35”-30”-25”-20”-15”-10”-5”)
 
A5. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool down
Total distance: 2300 meters
 
NOTES: Focus on keeping your strokes long in order to glide through the water. Remember to reach out as far as possible with one arm and simultaneously push all the way back with the other, until your hand reaches your hips.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl- Backstroke @ warm up
 
A2. 4×50 meters, Stroke drills (alternate between numbers C and E)
Rest 5 minutes between
 
A3. 1200 meters, Crawl (100 meters @ 1,5KmPR -10 and 100 meters @ easy pace)
 
A4. 4×50 meters, Crawl (try to take the least amount of breaths as possible- try to be relaxed and glide through the water with efficient strokes)
Rest 45 seconds between
 
A5. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 2200 meters
 
NOTES: On A3. try to bring down your heart rate while swimming at an easy pace. Focus on your breathing in order to control your heart rate. This will teach you to relax while swimming (active rest).
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl- Backstroke @ warm-up
 
A2. 200 meters, Stroke drills (combine numbers C and E)
 
A3. 4×200 meters @ 1,5KmPR
Rest 20 seconds between and after the last set
150 meters @ 1,5KmPR -5”
Rest 15 seconds
100 meters @ 1,5KmPR -10”
Rest 10 seconds
50 meters @ 1,5KmPR -15”
 
A4. 100 meters, Stroke of choice @ cool-down
Total Distance: 2500 meters
 
NOTES: The main set is a challenge workout of 2Km. Try to swim at the set pace for each distance and focus on maintaining that pace throughout. Use your technique to swim efficiently.
A. Swimming
A1. 200 meters, Crawl- Backstroke @ warm-up
 
A2. 200 meters, Flutter kicks- stroke drill C (alternate every 50 meters)
 
A3. Death by sprints: 1×100 meter sprint every 3 minutes for as long as possible
 
A4. 100 meters, Breaststroke @ cool-down
Total Distance: Up to you!!!
 
NOTES: Challenge Workout!!! Try to hold on for as long as possible and be wise with your rest period. Take deep breathes and lower your heart rate as fast as possible, relax your body and prepare for the next sprint.
Front Crawl Leg Movement:
  • Kick from your hips, not from your knees.
  • Keep your toes pointed backwards not downwards, with the soles of your feet facing upwards. Also think of keeping your legs long.
  • Bend your knees slightly as you kick downwards.
  • Keep your legs straighter as you bring your feet back up towards the surface.
Leg Drills:
  1. Kick on front (kickboard): Hold a kickboard out in front of you, from the bottom with both hands. Start kicking your legs from the hips as explained above and every 6-8 kicks lift your head slowly to breathe but keep your hips high in the water. Return to starting position and continue in the same pattern.
  2. Kick on front (without a kickboard): Start with your arms extended ahead of you. Carry out the drill in the same way as the previous drill but without a kickboard. Keep your arms near the surface and try not to let them drop, especially when you lift your head for a breath.
  3. Kicks with bilateral breathing (Kickboard): Hold the kickboard out in front of you, from the bottom edge, with one hand and the other beside your hip. Start kicking your legs and every 6-8 kicks turn your head to the side (do not lift), so that the back of your head rests beside your arm. Turn your head to enter the water and exhale slowly for 6-8 kicks and start again. (same on the opposite side)
  4. Kicks with bilateral breathing (without a kickboard): Extend one arm out in front of you, while keeping the other extended back beside your hip. Carry out the drill the same way as the previous drill without a kickboard. Keep your arm near the surface at all times, especially when your head turns to take a breath.
  5. Bilateral breathing with arms down (without a kickboard): Start kicking your legs with your arms beside your hips and your face in the water. Every 6-8 kicks turn your head (do not lift!) and upper body to the right to take a breath and return to starting position to exhale. Repeat on your left side.
  6. Flutter kicks: Hold the kickboard from the top and let your forearms rest on it. Avoid pushing down on it and try to lay on it with shoulders and arms relaxed. This will allow the rest of your body to stay in a horizontal position. Start kicking your legs and propel your body through the water.
Front Crawl Stroke Movement:
  • Extend each arm forward and slightly downward along the imaginary tracks of the shoulders. Press back in a straight line (no ‘S’ shaped pull) and relax on the recovery. Recovery is the movement that returns the hand from where it exits the water near your hips to where it re-enters in front of your shoulder.
  • Aim for symmetry between your two arms.
  • Keep your core engaged to minimize any wobbles or lateral movements.
  • Drive your strokes from the core, not your arms.
Kickboard Stroke Drills:
  1. Arm Circles from the top: Hold the kickboard from the top with one hand while the other performs continuous strokes. Try to enter the water and extend the arm further than the kickboard, pull slightly down and back and then push the water back, extending the arm all the way to the hips. Repeat with the other arm.
  2. Arm circles from the bottom: Hold the kickboard from the bottom with both arms with your face in the water and start kicking your legs. Perform one stroke with each arm and then lift your head forward to take a breath. Lower your face back into the water and start again.
  3. Arm circles with bilateral breathing from the bottom: Hold the kickboard from the bottom edge with both hands. Start kicking with your legs with your face in the water. As one arm starts to pull for the stroke the head simultaneously turns to the side to breathe. As the arm starts the recovery the head and hand return to starting position. Repeat with the other arm.
  4. Arm circles with bilateral breathing to the right or left only: Hold the kickboard from the bottom and with both hands and start kicking your legs with your face in the water. Perform continuous alternating strokes, taking breaths only on the right side. Carry out the same drill, taking breaths only on the left side.
  5. Bilateral breathing every 3 strokes: Hold the kickboard from the bottom with both hands, face in the water and start kicking. Perform continuous alternating strokes taking a breath every 3rd stroke.
Stroke Drills:
  1. Arm circles with bilateral breathing (same as number three from the kickboard stroke drills but without a kickboard): Start with both arms extended out in front of you. Keep left arm close to the surface when the right arm is performing the stroke and keep your head down against the left arm while taking the breath. When the arm returns to starting position count 6-8 kicks before repeating on the other side.
  2. Arm circles with bilateral breathing to the right or left only (same as number 4 from the kickboard stroke drills without a kickboard): Start with both arms extended out in front of you. Perform continuous strokes with the right arm and take a breath every 2nd stroke. The left arm must stay near the surface.
  3. Arm circles with bilateral breathing every 3 strokes (same as number 5 from the kickboard stroke drills without the kickboard): In this drill one hand waits for the other out in front of before starting the stroke. Every third stroke, take a breath.
  4. Right side- Left side: Perform strokes only with the right arm for a whole length while the other arm is extended beside your hip. Take a breath every 2nd stroke. Repeat with the left arm.
  5. Drag drill: For this drill swim just as you would in stroke drill 3, with the only difference being, that you drag your fingertips on the surface of the water during the recovery of the arm. Try to keep your forearms relaxed as if they were hanging.
Front Crawl head & body position and movement:
  • Keep your head in line with your trunk in a neutral position and look straight down. This helps you to keep your body horizontal in the water, creates the least amount on drag and also prevents neck injuries. An alternative is to look slightly forward from the corners of your eyes while keeping your head in a neutral position.
  • Roll your body. Allow your body to roll freely from side to side, following the movements of your arms. Rolling from side to side allows you to engage large muscle groups (chest, back, abs in addition to shoulders and legs) and consequently improve your propulsion. While your body rolls, your head should remain static, looking straight down, except when breathing.
  • To breathe in, you roll farther on your side than during the non-breathing arm strokes. Your head simply follows along your body then rolls a little bit farther until your mouth clears the water so you can inhale.
  • To breathe with ease, keep air exchange constant. Start exhaling as soon as you have inhaled and make exhaling the primary focus of the breath. Avoid overfilling your lungs. Inhale just enough.

Marina-Anastasia Athanasiadou, BSc, MSc, CYQ Central YMCA
MSc in Exercise Rehabilitation, Bangor University, Wales.
BSc in Sports Science, Democritus University of Thrace, majors in Swimming and Exercise
rehabilitation
Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Gym Instructor Level 2, CYQ: Central YMCA qualifications, Fitness Wales)